Breast Augmentation Terminology: A RealSelf Urban Glossary
Don't know the difference between a BL and a TUBA? Think "drop and fluff" describes driving to the dog groomer? And isn't "bottoming out" a term reserved for the real estate market?
It's OK if you're confused—we're here to help. Here's a quick vocabulary lesson so you can navigate your breast augmentation with educated ease.
Breast augmentation. Simply put, it's a surgery intended to enlarge the breast either by saline or silicone breast implants (also called augmentation mammoplasty), or through the transfer of body fat into the breast.
Breast lift. Gravity gets to everything eventually—including your breasts. And, if you throw in a few breastfed babies or significant weight loss), you've created the perfect storm for breast sagging. A BL (also known as mastopexy), often performed with the insertion of implants, aims to tighten loose skin and restore your breasts to a perky place. There's four procedures available for saying goodbye to sag: crescent, peri-areolar, lollipop, and anchor.
A post-op worry that you haven't gone big enough. As in, "...boob greed has now set in HARD. I feel like I may not have been completely honest with myself about what I wanted. I feel like they are still somewhat small," says community member Melymel2305.
A period of low mood or sadness following BA surgery. Surgery is physically and emotionally taxing, and adding pain meds and lack of sleep to the mix may cause mild depression. As in, "Am I just being a big baby? I think I have boobie blues because I find myself crying and regretting the procedure," says community member Liz12.
Keep in mind that as your body heals, your mood will likely elevate—but be sure to report the "blues" to your doctor, especially if your symptoms are severe.
When the implants work their way below the crease under your breast, appearing as if they're sliding down the chest well. "I am almost positive that my breasts have begun to bottom out... will they continue to drop or could they possibly stay the way they are now?... I dislike the way they look when I raise my arms," asks community member 3886anon in a RealSelf Q&A.
Bottoming out can sometimes happen with large implants, as your tissues may not support the weight, or the surgically created "pocket" holding the implant is stretched out. The solution to a bottomed-out breast implant is a surgical revision.
Breast width diameter. The BWD is a pre-procedure measurement your surgeon uses to select the right size implant. To determine your BWD, the breast is measured from the cleavage to it's outer edge. Women's breasts usually range from 11-14 centimeters, and it's best to opt for an implant slightly narrower or the same size as your BWD.
Breasts that may look (and feel) rock hard. Implants don't typically "harden" after surgery, but there is some risk that they tissue that surrounds them can. Dr. E. Ronald Finger defines this phenomenon is a RealSelf Q&A, saying: "Capsular contracture is when the tissue surrounding the implant gets more dense and tightens around the implant squeezing it."
Plastic surgeon Steven H. Williams says there are four grades of capsular contracture, ranging from a Grade I, where the breast is soft and looks natural, to a Grade IV, where the breast is firm, painful, and abnormal-looking. The correction for severe capsular contracture often includes the replacement of your implants and the capsule.
Cubic centimeter. A cc is a measure that determines the size (or volume) of your breast implant. Sizes range from 120 to 800cc's, although mid-range 350cc implants are the most popular. If your breasts are asymmetrical pre-op, your plastic surgeon may use two different sizes to create a more balanced look post-op.
D & F
Drop & fluff. When implants are first placed, swelling and stretching of the pectoralis major muscle can push the implants upward, often creating an unnatural look. Eventually, as the body heals, the implants will "drop" into place and the tissues will soften and "fluff." This process can take several weeks.
"There is always swelling after implant placement that will take at least three to four months to resolve and often as long as six to seven months," says plastic surgeon Dr. Margaret Skiles. "So try to be patient and wait for your size and shape to finalize."
This problem occurs on the bottom of the breasts when you can feel/see the breast implant below the “previous” breast fold area. One “bubble” is caused by the breast implant and the other by the breast tissue, creating the double bubble.
A commonly used surgical technique where the top part of the implant is placed under the muscle and the bottom half is covered by your breast tissue. Plastic surgeon Dr. Brooke R. Seckel says, "This allow[s] an upward rotation or lift of the breast, which is very helpful in breasts that have a little sag."
A "natural" option for breast augmentation. This "scarless" BA method involves liposuctioning fat from the abdomen and thighs and injecting it into the breasts.
Frankenboob/Spongebob Square Boob
The high "rectangular" or "square" appearance of breasts immediately after surgery. As in, "I am (425 and 475 HP silicone implants) and have the dreaded squareboobs..." says community member breastochangeo. But, like Morning Boob, Frankenboob doesn't stick around for good. As the post-op swelling resolves, it's likely that the breasts will drop, soften, and look less boxy.
A highly cohesive silicone gel breast implant. Silicone implants have been around since the '60s and have since improved in their cohesiveness (aka: the cross-linking of silicone bonds that give the gel increased firmness). Gummy bear benefits include: the ability to retain their shape over time, less
risk for rippling, and little chance for silicone leakage.
Ultra High Profile/ , High Profile, Moderate Profile. Profile is how far your implants project (or stick out) from your chest. High- and ultra-high profiles command a bit more, well, "presence" than moderate profile implants.
Implants that temporarily harden upon awakening. As in, "I had a BA two weeks ago...I wake up every morning with my breasts feeling engorged like they did when I was breast feeding," says RealSelf community member BlackBeauty.
Although plastic surgeon Dr. Richard Tholen says that Morning Boob is not forever, "Early in [BA] recovery, you do not swing or use your arms very much [at night] — and your pectoralis muscles tighten up to try to return to their previously unstretched state. Morning firmness results. Your muscles will reach a new steady state as time goes by and this morning firmness will go away permanently."
Pre-op & Post-op
Pre-operative and post-operative. As in, "I was a saggy after breastfeeding twins pre-op and now that I'm post-op, I'm loving life and my full C's/small D's."
An implant with a symmetrical shape. Implant shapes come in two variations: round or teardrop (also known as ). Round implants are equally full at the top and bottom. Below is an example of a smooth, round saline implant.
What the outer shell of your implant may feel like. Implant shells comes in two varieties: smooth or textured. Textured implants were initially intended to reduce the risk of capsular contracture and keep the implant from shifting (or flipping) out of position.
Saline implants have a silicone shell filled with sterile salt water (a fluid similar to what’s already in your body). So what makes saline different from silicone? Plastic surgeon Dr. Arthur Cambiero says, “Silicone feels and looks more natural and [you can see and feel] ripples [or the natural folds of the implant] less. Saline feels and looks a little less natural and ripples more. But the incision is smaller with saline and bigger with silicone.”
Silicone implants have a silicone shell filled with a “squishy” gel-like substance comparable to natural breast tissue. Below is an example of a smooth round silicone implant.
Surgery. Make sure your surgeon is board-certified in plastic surgery way before you sign on for any aesthetic SX.
Tear-Drop Shaped Implants
An anatomical or contour-shaped implant. This implant shape is pre-formed to resemble the sloping "tear-drop" quality of a natural breast.
Transaxillary, Periareolar, Crease/Inframammary or TUBA
BA incision sites. There's more that one way to get an implant to its final destination. You can insert the implant through an incision in your armpit (transaxillary), near the nipple (periareolar), under your breast (crease/inframammary), or even go for the somewhat controversial TUBA (a.k.a. trans-umbilical breast augmentation) via your belly button.
Unders & Overs
This is where your surgeon decides to place your implants. Implants are inserted under or over the chest muscle. This muscle, called the pectoralis major, rests over the rib cage and underneath the breasts.
If your PS placed an implant "under" your pecs, you've got an "under" or sub pectoral, while an "over" or a subglandular is placed above these muscles. Many plastic surgeons prefer unders as they tend to look softer and less "done," and there's decreased risk of rippling and capsular contracture. It's also easier to see breast cancer via mammogram with unders. The red arrow in the photo points to the pectoralis muscle.
Symmastia or uni-boob happens when "at rest, your implants touch (i.e., the skin over them touches in the [middle])," says plastic surgeon Dr. Alan M. Engler. Correction of symmastia requires a surgical procedure and often, implant replacement.
Upper & Lower Pole
The upper and lower parts of the breast. The upper pole is above the nipple while the lower pole is below the nipple.
Some women prefer upper pole fullness and chose implants that result in very full, round, or "high" cleavage. Others may opt for more fullness in the lower pole, which is thought to better imitate the look of a natural breast.
Zingers: Tingling or burning breast pain following the operation. As in, "Today I was driving home and felt the zingers! WOW! Talk about sensitive nipples!" says community member FitLuv.
According to plastic surgeon Dr. Lavinia Chong, these "intermittent burning, sharp, episodic sensations starting from the rib cage and radiating towards the nipple" are alarming to the patient but not unusual. In fact, they are common after sensory nerves have been stretched over an implant and should resolve in three to six months.
Was this guide helpful? Thanks for your feedback
Still have questions about Breast Augmentation? Ask a doctor.